Bulgaria isn’t nevertheless a well known wine country, however that’s close to modification as Bulgarian wineries square measure carving associate degree admirable niche, writes Vivien Yap
“Finding Bulgarian wine is like finding lost cash down the rear of your lounge, there’s a component of pleasant surprise, during this case it’s regarding however sensible the wine is,” I quip.
I have been expressing my disbelief for the past half-an-hour to my friend Miros as we tend to sit within the tasting area of Dragomir distillery in city, Bulgaria. The tasting area, I ought to show, is additional sort of a main office, with packaging scattered on one aspect and varied bottles on the opposite aspect. The distillery is within the method of moving to the village of Brestnik, 10km or half dozen miles south of city, therefore I will excuse the apparent chaos. however honestly, with wine this sensible, you’ll be able to place ME in an exceedingly cowbarn and that i would still be smiling. So, allow us to endure a journey to find Bulgarian wine along.
The winemaking started a long time ago
“Did you recognize that Homer wrote regarding Thraco-Phrygian wine?” Antonina Porteva, the manager at Bendida wine look within the heart of city, asks me. I even have no plan however Google quickly points ME to The epos. It reads, “Prepare a feast for your councillors; it’s right and affordable that you just ought to do so; there’s abundance of wine in your tents, that the ships from the Achaeans bring from geographical area daily.”
“We are creating wine for eight,000 years in city,” she says, her voice laced proudly and that i will perceive why. i’m told that some time past, the wine was sweet like cherry and black like ink, and it had been rather common to dilute wine with water. Then the craft of craft continuing to evolve over centuries, spanning through varied ethnic teams and cultures from Thracians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman Turks to Bulgarians. throughout the communist years, wineries in Republic of Bulgaria blossomed as comrades within the jap alignment control a deep appreciation for Bulgarian wine.
Following the autumn of communism, the wine business was on the decline as painful social reforms and high state infested the country. This lasted until the late Nineteen Nineties once easement of trade between the previous jap and Western blocs began to flourish. On one January 2007, Republic of Bulgaria joined the EU, first appearance a amount of stability that fuelled the wine trade and consumption additional. Today, at the time of writing, there square measure regarding three hundred wineries in Republic of Bulgaria and also the variety is about to extend each year.
The result is that Republic of Bulgaria features a long history of craft, motor-assisted by a favourable climate (toasty summers and icy winters), fertile soil, and a culture that’s therefore deeply entrenched with sensible wine. i think it’s solely a matter of your time before Republic of Bulgaria becomes a formidable force on the world’s wine map.
Where should you start
There square measure 5 official wine regions in Bulgaria: The Danube Plain within the north, Black Sea Coast within the east, the Thraco-Phrygian vale within the south, the Struma vale within the southwest, and also the Rose vale, that may be a slim band squeezed between the Danube Plain and also the Thraco-Phrygian vale.
If it helps you to visualise, merely divide the country into 2 components in your mind – the white-producing Danube Plain within the north and also the red-producing Thraco-Phrygian vale within the south. The Thraco-Phrygian region is arguably the foremost vital wine-producing region in Republic of Bulgaria, and city lies within the heart of the Thraco-Phrygian vale, creating it a perfect launch pad to start out searching for Bulgarian wine.
Bulgarian grape varieties
Popular international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay square measure mature within the rolling hills and sedgy meadows round the country. progressively although, wineries in Republic of Bulgaria square measure commencing to place a robust stress on native grape varieties. As you may hear names like Mavrud and Melnik time and once more whereas in Republic of Bulgaria, here is what you would like to know:
- Mavrud – indigenous to the Thracian Valley, Mavrud is like a Bulgarian superhero capable of producing outstanding spicy, full-bodied wine with a clean, herbal finishing. This grape variety is certainly the one to watch.
- Rubin – invented in 1944 by crossing Syrah and Nebbiolo, Rubin has an abundance of berry flavours on the palate.
- Melnik – Melnik has two popular clones, namely Broad-Leaved Melnik and Melnik 55 (which is created from Broad-Leaved Melnik, Valdiguié, Durif, Jurançon and Cabernet Sauvignon). Both varieties thrive in the warmest part of Bulgaria, so expect full-bodied and positively spicy wine.
- Pamid – like Mavrud, Pamid is an ancient variety. It produces wine with delicate toasted notes.
- Ruen – a hybrid between Shiroka Melnishka (aka Broad-Leaved Melnik) and Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruen has rich fruit flavours and a slight peppery note.
- Dimyat – a highly popular grape variety, Dimyat produces well-structured and aromatic white wine with a sweet edge.
- Misket Cherven – aka Red Misket, this white grape produces light-bodied wine that tastes like honey-cream and smells like a spring garden. There is also a cousin called Sandanski Misket, an aromatic white with notes of citrus and melon.
Luc Sougné, a bourgeois WHO imports Bulgarian wine to European nation, told ME that though the Bulgarian varieties manufacture glorious wine, they’re tougher to sell in supermarkets overseas as a result of not many folks have detected of them. In alternative words, the native grapes need a private clarification and skill. I agree; I had ne’er detected of Mavrud before my trip to city however currently i’m a faithful fan, seeking out this heroic red between look.
Plovdiv: your launch pad to Bulgarian wine in the Thracian Valley
The ancient town of city, 145km or 90 miles southeast of national capital, is well accessible by bus, train or taxi from national capital. there’s additionally an on the spot Ryanair flight from London Stansted to city. See the “getting to Plovdiv” section below for additional info. Once you’ve got arrived, you’ll be able to build use of this guide to arrange your own wine route.
1. Bendida Wine Shop (http://bendida.eu/en/), 11 Zlatarska
Start your wine journey in Bendida, a small gathering look within the Kapana neighbourhood, a seriously hip and vivacious space bordering the recent city. Antonina Porteva is that the third generation shaper guilty of the look, whereas her female offspring, Elizabeth Porteva, oversees the distillery in Brestovitsa (18km or 11 miles southwest of Plovdiv). The look specialises in higher-end wines from their own distillery and additionally from alternative wineries.
2. Dragomir Winery (http://www.dragomir.bg), 15 Kuklensko Shose Blvd
Set-up by 2 enologists, Dragomir currently aims to incorporate a minimum of one native grape selection into every vintage. At the instant they need 3 labels: Sarva, Karizma and Pitos. Sarva is entry-level, Karizma is mid-range, whereas Pitos is high-end and complicated.
Don’t build identical mistake as I did. Before I came here, I had wrong assumed that associate degree entry-level wine like Sarva Mavrud would be somewhat like associate degree entry-level Montepulciano, which means terribly straightforward on the surface however doesn’t have a posh and chronic end. As Miros and that i weekday down within the tasting area to fancy the drink, it became apparent that i used to be wrong – the color of Sarva Mavrud is intense, the feel is velvety, and with less tannins, it’s associate degree exceptional depth and deeper flavour. unnecessary to mention, i used to be blown away.
Note: Dragomir is within the method of moving to Brestnik, a village 10km or half dozen miles south of city, therefore check their web site before dropping in.
3. Villa Yustina (https://villayustina.com/en/), 51 Nikola Petkov Str, Ustina
This superlatively lovely corner of Republic of Bulgaria is 27km or 17 miles southeast of city, and Villa Yustina is absolutely the star of wine touristry within the Thraco-Phrygian vale, hospitable wine amateurs and connoisseurs from fifty three countries in 2018.
Villa Yustina additionally has 3 main labels: Villa Yustina (entry-level), Four Seasons (mid-range), and symbol that caters to the high-end market. made of the autochthonic Rubin selection, the Four Seasons Rosé is fruity and very pleasant, extremely appropriate for a heat summer’s evening.
Monogram Mavrud and Rubin merit special mention. My friend Stanislav proclaims this can be associate degree authentic Bulgarian wine, because it uses native Mavrud and Rubin grapes, aged for eighteen months in 100% Bulgarian oak then 2 years in an exceedingly bottle. This elegant wine goes exceptionally well with white meat, significantly goat meat. coincidently, the distillery additionally raises a herd of Afrikander goats and uses the meat in pairing courses.
At present, Villa Yustina features a guest house however is within the method of launching a building right next to the distillery, creating it easier for guests to remain over and revel in long days of peace and relaxation with healthy doses of fantastic wine.
4. Minkov Brothers (http://www.minkovbrothers.bg), 8473 Venets
From city, if you follow route A1 (Highway Trakiya) and drive towards Burgas on the Black Sea Coast, you may stumble upon the Minkov Brothers distillery if you create a left flip after you see route seven. the gap between the distillery and city is regarding 195km or 121 miles, therefore roughly a 2-hour drive.
This distillery features a long history stretching back to 1875 once Ivan, Vasil and Nikifor Minkov established a distillery in Venets, a village close to Karnobat among the Burgas Province. Their wine went on to win Republic of Bulgaria its initial medallion from the wine truthful in Bruxelles in 1894.
Today, the distillery produces glorious white and red wines, although i’m a fan of their dry White Cuveé, a posh wine with many peach and floral notes.
Unique selling points of Bulgarian wine
After making an attempt many bottles and reprehension friends in Republic of Bulgaria, here square measure the 5 reasons why i believe Bulgarian wine can shortly become a tour Delaware force on the globe stage:
- Bulgarian wine has all the elements needed for success: a long history of winemaking, a continental climate, fertile soil, passion, and money (funding from the EU).
- Most wines retail below €15 so it is good value for money. This is because labour is affordable, and most wineries are small and family-run where everyone does multiple tasks.
- The local red varieties tend to have less tannins, but you get deeper berry flavours.
- In general, I find the entry-level and mid-range Bulgarian wines to be exceptionally good. They give similar wines from Argentina, Chile, Italy and Spain a good run for the money.
- At present, about 20% of its wine is exported, but with the internet and e-Commerce, this will change soon.
How to get to Plovdiv
Getting to Plovdiv is easy.
1. Fly to Sofia and take a bus from Sofia to Plovdiv
If you fly into Sofia, you can get Metro Line 2 from Terminal 2 to Serdika Metro Station in the city centre, then switch to Line 1 to the Central Bus Station. You can take a direct bus from Central Bus Station in Sofia to Plovdiv – multiple bus companies provide this service. The cost is around 14 Bulgarian lev each way and the journey takes about 2 hours with the last stop at Bus Station South (Yug) in Plovdiv. Before you go, you can check out the Sofia Airport guide for all the transport options and also the Central Bus Station website.
2. Fly to Sofia and take a train from Sofia to Plovdiv
Take the Sofia-Svilengrad or Sofia-Burgas lines from Central Railway Station Sofia. If you get on a fast train, the journey takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. For more information, see this page.
3. Fly direct to Plovdiv
You can also take a direct flight from London Stansted to Plovdiv with Ryanair. Search for your flights on this Skyscanner.
Useful travel tips
- The currency in Bulgaria is lev. There are several money exchange shops in Plovdiv if you would like to convert pounds or euros to lev.
- The main language is Bulgarian but many people speak excellent English.
- The best time to visit Plovdiv is from April to July, then September to October. The city sizzles in the summer with temperatures averaging 33°C (91°F) in July and August, and it is fairly common to see the mercury reaching 40°C (104°F). Winter is cold and snowy so layer up if you go.